Free Testing During Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Chautauqua County Lead Poisoning Prevention Team Risk Assessors Jeff Mitchell and Anna Powell will be testing household items for lead on October 28th at The Chautauqua Center in Jamestown
and October 29th at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk.

(MAYVILLE, NY)- A case of a local two-year old with lead poisoning initially had Chautauqua County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Team stumped.  Deteriorating lead paint in the home is the typical cause of lead poisoning in Chautauqua County, but the family’s home was nearly new, meaning there was no lead paint used.  Risk assessors tested numerous items in the house, and finally determined that the most likely cause was that the child had chewed or swallowed part of a dollar-store toy contaminated with lead.   

In recognition of Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2020, the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services (CCDHHS), The Chautauqua Center, and Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc.  have teamed up to conduct a free drive-up/walk-up lead testing of household objects on Wednesday, October 28 in Jamestown and Thursday, October 29 in Dunkirk. 

“Lead poisoning is preventable,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services. “The key is stopping children from coming into contact with old lead paint dust and products that contain lead. Every year, almost 100 children in this County are poisoned by old lead paint, and that is unacceptable.”

“A child’s brain grows the fastest between birth and 6 years of age,” said The Chautauqua Center pediatric provider Jennifer Janocha. “Lead is highly toxic, and it only takes a very small amount of lead to affect a young child. Children with high blood-lead levels can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems—such as hyperactivity—slowed growth, headaches, digestive problems, and more.”  

Pediatrics staff from The Chautauqua Center will be on hand to give away face masks and answer questions about the Center’s new pediatrics services. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that products such as children’s toys, lunch boxes, cheap jewelry, zippers, and imported ceramics that may be contaminated are generally a minor source of lead intake for most children, but they can be the major source for an individual child. Lead exposure is cumulative, so all possible sources of lead should be eliminated.

“We look forward to testing household items so parents are assured that that these items do not contain lead,” said CCDHHS Lead Prevention Team Coordinator Anna Powell.  “It is also critically important for caregivers to make sure that their home is free from deteriorating lead paint or paint dust, because that is by far the number one cause of lead poisoning in our County.”

The CCDHHS Lead Prevention Team will come to any home in Chautauqua County where a child under 6 is living or visiting at least 6 hours per week and test that home for lead paint hazards at no charge.  If lead is found, staff will work with the property owner, providing the supplies and guidance to safely remove the lead hazards.  

Caregivers can help keep children safe from lead poisoning by making  sure children do not have access to items containing even trace amounts of lead, regularly washing children’s hands and toys  with soap and water, and using only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula.  Additionally, all children should get a blood test for lead at ages 1 and 2. 

Testing at the event will be a drive-up/walk-up format, and testing is limited to three items per household.  Items to be brought for testing might include vintage toys, imported dollar-store toys, imported ceramics, vinyl items, old painted furniture, or repurposed painted wood craft items. 

The October 28 event in Jamestown will be held in The Chautauqua Center parking garage at 107 Institute Street from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  The October 29th event in Dunkirk will take place from 11 a.m.  to 1:30 p.m. at the main entrance of Brooks Memorial Hospital on Central Avenue. 

Face masks are required.  If possible, items should be left in the vehicle trunk for testing.   For more information, please contact the Chautauqua County Lead Poisoning Prevention Team at (716) 753-4795.